Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Human Form - an unending challenge

I have taken several workshops from a wonderful French instructor by the name of Jacques Clement of Montreal. Most ateliers work in charcoal, pencil, in Jacques Clement's workshops we work in a studio situation with oil sticks, oil pastels, and oil paint directly from the model.

Why do artists continually paint from the live model.  I must tell you that I do not exclusively paint from the model - I create in other areas as well, but none are as challenging as being confronted with the model posing in an atmosphere of drama of light and shadow.  The technical difficulties of working with the oil sticks, are endless, but the possibilities of expression are great.

When confronted with the model,  you are communicating with your model and her gesture. Your drawing will be an experience that is unique to you.  If you are successful, your work with the model will evoke an aesthetic that a good painting should bring forth, whether the subject is the human figure, a bouquet of flowers, or a plein air landscape.

Jacques emphasizes organization of pictorial space.  How you place the model on your paper can determine success.  You start with one big shape on your surface....and do not think too much...just do it.

The above photos are beginning steps for placing the model and first brush strokes of colour. Permission and photos taken by Libby Krul another of the workshop participants. 

An ochre background (light value) with a terre verte shape (dark value) for starters will work, making sure that you have interesting negative shapes and at the same time creating movement and beautiful color.  Here we work with oil sticks, graphite, and solvent, and wipe off with solvent soaked paper towels.  You can then draw a bit with oil pastel.  The rules of contrast come into play ie without a subdued part, the emphasized part will not be as brilliant.  

 Work with light and shadow.  Mystery in a painting is a powerful force.  I don't want to tell the whole story, a general mood will make me happy. I don't want to make anything that resembles a photograph.   For finishing techniques, you can scratch into your work for interesting effects.

We are very fortunate to have Jacques Clement here in Montreal, I invite you to visit Jacques Clement's most interesting website:   If you e-mail him at, he will let you know when is the next live model Atelier.  I'm sure I will be there.


Irene said...

That is a challenge, but a pleasant surprise at the end, what a great group of sketches.

Don Coker said...

Carole, your work is very cool. I love your blog.